Faculty Profile: Susan C. Morse
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49 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1385 (2016)
In law, a safe harbor describes behavior that complies with the law, and leaves other facts that fall outside the safe harbor to be judged case-by-case. A sure shipwreck is the mirror image. It describes behavior that violates the law as a matter of rule, and leaves other conduct to be judged by a standard. Safe harbors and sure shipwrecks are both rule-standard hybrids, but they produce asymmetrical incentives. Safe harbors encourage those affected by them to converge on the safe harbor boundary from both directions. Under a first-order analysis, sure shipwrecks only encourage bunching immediately on the compliant side of the sure-shipwreck boundary as a result of the incentive to move out of the noncompliant space. But considerations such as market coordination can cause convergence on lines drawn by sure shipwrecks as well. Overinclusion and underinclusion risks, ex ante versus ex post costs, and interest group influence are some of the considerations that affect safe harbor and sure shipwreck policies.
Susan Morse joined the University of Texas law faculty in 2013. She studies and writes about rules and standards, international tax reform and tax compliance; and has taught federal income tax, business tax, international tax, and tax policy courses. She has pioneered the Financial Methods for Lawyers course at Texas Law and won the 2016 Women's Law Caucus Teacher of the Year award. She edits the tax section at JOTWELL.com. Professor Morse clerked for the Honorable Michael Boudin of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and spent seven years in business tax practice at Ropes & Gray, Boston and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Palo Alto. Prior to joining the Texas faculty, she served as Associate Professor at UC Hastings College of the Law and as Research Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
Recent writings include Government-to-Robot Enforcement, 2019 Ill. L. Rev. (forthcoming); Entrepreneurship Incentives for Resource-Constrained Firms, Handbook of Law and Entrepreneurship (forthcoming) and Regulating by Example, 35 Yale J. Reg. (forthcoming) (with Leigh Osofsky), which provides a theory for the interpretation of examples in regulations and inspired an online symposium, How Agencies Communicate, at JREG.
Morse wrote Safe Harbors, Sure Shipwrecks, 49 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1385 (2016) and considers safe harbors in the news with op-eds, as here on special needs funding in public schools and here on food labeling. Safe Harbors, Sure Shipwrecks was selected for presentation at the Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum in 2015.
Morse submitted a cowritten Ninth Circuit amicus brief in 2016 in Altera Corp. v. Commissioner supporting the validity of Treasury’s regulation that requires cost-sharing arrangements to include stock-based compensation. Blog coverage here, here, here and here.
Morse has also written Innovation and Taxation at Start-Up Firms, 69 Tax L. Rev. 357 (2016); Tax Anti-Avoidance Law in Australia and the United States, 49 Int'l Law. 111 (2015); A Simpler Offshore Profits Transition Tax, 76 Tax Notes Int'l 629 (Feb. 17, 2014); Startup Ltd.: Tax Planning and Initial Incorporation, 14 Fla. Tax Rev. 319 (2013); Tax Haven Incorporation for U.S. Firms: No Exodus Yet, 66 Nat’l Tax J. 395 (2013); The Transfer Pricing Regs Need a Good Edit, 40 Pepperdine L. Rev. 1415 (2013); and A Corporate Offshore Profits Transition Tax, 91 N.C. L. Rev. 549 (2013).
Courses for Spring 2018View Course History
February 2, 2018
Yale J. on Reg.: Notice and Comment
January 29, 2018
Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment
Introduction to Online Symposium, How Agencies Communicate, featuring Regulating by Example, 35 Yale J. on Reg. __ (2018)
December 7, 2017
Argument analysis in Marinello v. United States
November 28, 2017
Argument preview of Marinello v. U.S., in which taxpayer contests government's obstruction charge based on destruction of evidence prior to a known audit or other tax enforcement proceeding.
October 17, 2017
Recap of the Ninth Circuit oral argument in Altera, a case about cost-sharing arrangements and administrative law case (with Steve Shay).
October 10, 2017
A summary of reasons why the Ninth Circuit should reverse the Tax Court in Altera, a case about cost-sharing of intangibles and administrative law, focusing on the inherent lack of comparability for available unrelated party data in the case of cost-shared IP. With Steve Shay.
September 18, 2017
June 8, 2017
March 10, 2017
February 8, 2017
Dallas Morning News
October 5, 2016
Dallas Morning News
July 14, 2016
July 1, 2016
June 27, 2016
April 3, 2015
Review of Andrew Bird, Alexander Edwards & Terry J. Shevlin, Does the U.S. System of Taxation on Multinationals Advantage Foreign Acquirers? (working paper 2015)
June 23, 2014
Blog post: Opinion analysis: Court clarifies standard for evidentiary hearing in enforcement of IRS summons
Coverage of United States v. Clarke, 573 U.S. __ (2014)
March 19, 2014
January 9, 2014
Review of Thomas J. Brennan, Law and Finance: The Case of Constructive Sales, 5 Ann. Rev. Fin. Econ. 259 (2013)
February 22, 2013
Review of David Gamage, Perverse Incentives Arising from the Tax Provisions of Healthcare Reform, 65 Tax L. Rev. 669 (2013)
July 16, 2012
Review of Martin Sullivan, Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century (2011)
February 20, 2012
September 26, 2011
Arizona State Law Journal Blog
Review of Paul J. Zak, The Moral Molecule (2012)
December 7, 2009
Review of Andrea Louise Campbell, What Americans Think of Taxes, in The New American Fiscal Sociology (Isaac William Martin et al. eds., 2009)